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Record Review 

Jamaican producer/singer Lee "Scratch" Perry cut more than 2,000 sides during his '60s and '70s heyday, and it sometimes seems the number of Perry compilations is itself approaching that number. Unless you're a fanatic, deciding between them can be daunting -- which is where this double CD comes in. A Live Injection is light on the late-'70s material (recorded at Perry's legendary Black Ark Studio) over-adequately covered on the three-CD Arkology. But it splits the difference between that overlong box and the endlessly playable late-'60s/early-'70s single-discs -- Some of the Best and The Upsetter Collection -- that many Scratch fanatics prefer.

The occasional useless American R&B remake (Busty Brown's "My Girl," Hortense Ellis' "Just One Look") notwithstanding, A Live Injection is a sumptuous combo platter made up of funky organ instrumentals (the Upsetters' "A Live Injection" and "French Connection"), proto-rap "deejay" cuts (I. Roy's "Space Flight," Dennis Alcapone's "Africa Stand"), a couple of dubs (Perry's "Bush Weed," a sinister "version" of Bunny & Ricky's "Bush Weed Corntrash") and a crucial fistful of other great songs. Perry's "People Funny Boy" cemented the reggae beat in 1968; Dave Barker's "Shocks of Mighty" is the greatest James Brown homage ever; Junior Byles' "Curly Locks" remains the definitive Jamaican slow-jam; the Gatherers' "Words of My Mouth" may well be Perry's greatest production, a snaking gape into a pitch-black heart of darkness. A Live Injection may not be definitive career overview, but it's as close as anyone's come to providing one.

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